June 30, 2005
‘Empire’ falters for ABC; NBC’s ‘Joe’ below average
By Nellie Andreeva and Andrew Wallenstein
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It was a rough launchfor ABC's big-budget limited series "Empire" and the return ofNBC's "Average Joe" franchise Tuesday.
Also squeezing the broadcasters was cable network BET'sfifth annual BET Awards, which outrated all six networks in thecoveted adults 18-49 demographic.
The 9-11 p.m. premiere of the ancient Rome-themed drama"Empire" averaged 6.4 million viewers and a 1.9 rating/5 shareamong adults 18-49, finishing third in the demo in the 9-10p.m. hour and second from 10-11 p.m.
After a yearlong hiatus, the fourth installment of "AverageJoe," dubbed "Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back" opened to 4.3million viewers and a 1.9/5 in 18-49, according to NielsenMedia Research. The premiere aired at 10 p.m. on the East Coastand in its regular 8 p.m. slot on the West Coast.
The debut of "Average Joe 4" was down significantly fromthe in-season debut of its predecessor, "Average Joe 3," whichdrew 10.7 million viewers and a 5.4/14 in 18-49 in March 2004.
"Average Joe" didn't get help from its lead-in, the NBCreality series "I Want to Be a Hilton" (4.5 million, 1.8/5),which was down 28% in the demo from its unimpressive premierelast week.
With repeats and "Fire Me ... Please," CBS easily won thenight with an average of 6.3 million viewers and a 2.3/6 inadults 18-49. Fox (5.9 million, 2.1/6) was second in the 18-49demographic, followed by ABC (6.0 million, 1.8/5) and NBC (4.6million, 1.7/5).
But the night truly belonged to BET, whose 8 p.m. awardshow grabbed a 2.9 rating in 18-49 and a total haul of 6.6million viewers. It was the largest audience in the network'shistory but not its highest-rated show ever: That distinctionstill goes to a 1995 interview with O.J. Simpson (because BETwas available in far fewer homes 10 years ago).
There still was room for other cable shows to shine: MTV's"The Real World" picked up steam in its second week, drawing4.1 million at 10 p.m. FX's "Rescue Me" delivered a respectable2.6 million in the same time slot. All the competition spoiledthe debut for the new Comedy Central series "Stella," whichdrew a disappointing 1.3 million.